Amazon vs. the New 800lb Gorilla, QVC/HSN

QVC's logoE-commerce marketers will notice the new 800-pound retail gorilla in town. Amazon is the main contender for 38 percent of Web shoppers, but Thursday’s announcement that QVC and HSN will merge creates the “third-largest U.S. electronic retailer, and will be large enough to be listed as one of the S&P 500 stocks,” reports on Thursday.

That means officials with QVC, which will run both brands after the merger, hope cable shoppers who are already converting online will be joined by Web- and mobile-native e-commerce buyers.

This could be good news for resellers, as brands move to sell directly on Amazon. Nike did so recently.

For other e-commerce marketers, the $2 billion could feel like a threat, jostling competitors to gain market share in an already crowded market. That same PowerReviews research cited in June 2016 by Search Engine Land that shows that 38 percent of shoppers start product searches on Amazon reveals that only 35 percent start on Google — where many e-commerce marketers house their first clicks. (In 2015, however, Marketing Land found a BloomReach survey that stated “44 percent of respondents said they go directly to Amazon to start their product searches. That compares to 34 percent who said they use search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo to search for products. Just 21 percent of searchers said they start on a retailer site.”) With either number, Amazon’s dominance in the e-commerce space appears clear.

Here’s what reports the QVC/HSN merger could bring to the e-commerce bout:

HSN was the original U.S. home shopping channel, founded in 1977. QVC is now larger, with around 8 million regular customers and 183 million boxes shipped last year, compared to 5 million customers and 50 million packages for HSN. The companies estimate the shopper counts include 2 million people who are active at both companies. Combined, they expect sales to total $14 billion a year. Employment will total 27,000, before merger-related layoffs.

Both QVC, which is especially dependent on women’s clothing, and HSN, which sells more electronics and operates the Cornerstone group of retail brands, have lately faced weak sales and cut jobs as the three QVC video networks and HSN’s two channels have faced stiff competition, especially from Amazon, with more shoppers moving online.

What do you think, marketers?

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Heather Fletcher is senior content editor with Target Marketing.